Making a Difference 2019-2020

Making a difference Outcomes of ARC supported research 2019–20

The Australian Research Council acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past, present and emerging. Please note: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this publication may contain the names or images of deceased persons. The ARC is also responsible for administering the Engagement and Impact (EI) assessment. EI assesses the engagement of researchers with research end-users and shows how universities are translating their research into economic, social, environmental, cultural and other impacts. Assessments are made by expert panels of researchers and research end-users using narrative studies and supporting quantitative indicators. The ARC evaluates the quality of Australian university research through the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) program . ERA is an evaluation framework that identifies research excellence in Australian universities by comparing Australia’s research effort against international benchmarks. ERA assesses quality using a combination of indicators and expert review by research evaluation committees. THE AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL The Australian Research Council (ARC) is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity within the Australian Government. The ARC’s purpose is to grow knowledge and innovation for the benefit of the Australian community through funding the highest quality research, assessing the quality, engagement and impact of research and providing advice on research matters. The ARC funds research and researchers under the National Competitive Grants Program (NCGP). The NCGP consists of two elements—Discovery and Linkage. Within these elements are a range of schemes structured to provide a pathway of incentives for researchers to build the scope and scale of their work and collaborative partnerships. The majority of funding decisions under the NCGP are made on the basis of peer review.

ISSN (Print) 2209-6000 ISSN (Online) 2209-7414 Published: August 2020 © Commonwealth of Australia 2020

All material presented in this publication is provided under a CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence www.creativecommons. org > Licenses > by-nc-nd/4.0 with the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the Australian Research Council (ARC) logo, images, signatures and where otherwise stated. The details of the relevant licence conditions are available on the Creative Commons website as is the full legal code for the CC Attribution BY-NC-ND 4.0 licence www. creativecommons.org > licenses > by-nc-nd 4.0 legal code. Requests and enquiries regarding this licence should be addressed to ARC Legal Services on +61 2 6287 6600. Images: Front cover: Glitching neutron star opens up to researchers (page 13). Artist’s impression of the inside of a neutron star—Credit: Carl Knox, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav). Back cover: Mangrove dieback reveals an unexpected source of methane (page 45). Credit: Southern Cross University. Contents page: 1. The key to success is a company’s culture (page 19). Factory floor at Sebel Furniture. Credit: Stephen Healy. 2. Mangrove dieback reveals an unexpected source of methan (page 45). The research team encountering some obstacles on the way to measuring methane emissions from a forest of dead mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Credit: Southern Cross University. 3. Understanding extreme bushfire behaviour and firestorm development (page 58). Image: 2014 Grampians Fire, Victoria, exhibiting a towering fire cloud or ‘pyrocumulonimbus’. Credit: Randall Bacon. 4. Dancing kids achieve boosted abilities to self-regulate (page 66). QUT early childhood researcher Kate Williams has developed a fun rhythm and movement program linked to pathways in the brain to support young children's attentional and emotional development. Credit: QUT. 5. The lasting impact of caregiving for a dying loved one (page 75). Helping the needy stock photo. Istock.com/Lighthaunter. ARC scheme information: (page 84) Watercolor illustration. iStock.com/Kalistratova .

Welcome to the fourth edition of the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Making a difference publication, in which we draw together a diverse sample of outcomes from ARC-supported research projects that have occurred over the previous year. In 2020 the ARC celebrates 55 years of competitive grants delivery to the research sector. While we have existed in our current legislated form since 2001, it was in May 1965 that we first came to shape the delivery of government research funding as the Australian Research Grants Committee. From the very beginning, the ARC has supported research projects of dazzling variety and scope, on both fundamental and applied research themes. In this edition, we feature stories of research to uncover the hidden secrets of neutron stars and radio signals from deep space, of efforts to revive the world’s damaged coral reefs, and industry-focussed projects that are reducing agricultural methane emissions, and bringing new life to the humble old pair of jeans. The legacy of Australia’s first Archbishop is unpacked, as is a scheme to double the number of Indigenous entries in the Australian Dictionary of Biography . All of this, and much, much more, is made possible with the funding support of the ARC, which often flows through a multitude of individual grants and across different schemes. Entire research teams are supported at multi-million-dollar ARC Centres of Excellence and Industrial Transformation Training Centres and Research Hubs, which often additionally make use of equipment and facilities purchased through successful A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO

ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities grants. Individual researchers are supported at different career stages by ARC fellowships—ten stories in this publication are the product of a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award. And of course, funding from ARC Discovery Projects and Linkage Projects is woven through many researcher careers, nurturing ambitious research projects and creating collaborations with industry and beyond. This ecosystem of research support helps to create a rich and varied landscape of innovation and knowledge production, which in turn supports our industries, our higher education sector, and the wider Australian community. I hope this snapshot of projects gives you a rewarding insight into the socially transformative and productive work of Australian researchers.

Professor Sue Thomas Chief Executive Officer Australian Research Council

19 45

CONTENTS 3 i A MESSAGE FROM OUR CEO UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

59

Deodorising sheep makes them less appealing to blowflies Recycling denim in a new way Reinventing sugarcane into energy Breakthrough in plant nutrient detection Spearheading a mathematical approach to solve business problems

20 22 23 24 27

4 5 6 7 9

Smashing the quantum speed record Millisecond radio reflexes field a curveball from deep space Giant tsunami followed dinosaur-killing asteroid Ancient hyena poo sheds new light on human evolution The making of a superplume: Huge underground mountains of hot rock Synthetic bio-computers may hold the key to solve the unsolvable Glitching neutron star opens up to researchers

29

30 31 32 33 35 DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES 2D materials found to thrive in space conditions Artificial leaves to absorb CO 2 Ultrathin graphene film efficiently absorbs energy from the warm rays of the sun 20 years of research leads to airport explosives detector Tweaking silicon to improve solar cells for cheaper energy ADVANCING ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND MANAGEMENT Help or hindrance? Untangling the role of woody liana vines For a fish, it’s not just who you are, but where you are. 38 41

10 13

15

INDUSTRY DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

37

16 17 18 19

Protecting wheat from salty soils Debunking the myth about wheat breeding and allergies Gone with the wind—reducing agricultural methane emissions The key to success is a company’s culture

66

75

Values influence where we spend our time and money The uplifting history of Australian aviation Dancing kids achieve boosted abilities to self-regulate Early differences and disadvantage in health outcomes for LGBQ people Climate and economic factors driving farmers from the land Emotional intelligence gets the grades

64 65 66 67 68 71

‘Whoopi’ the manta ray shows how healing’s done Plastic pollution harms oxygen-producing ocean bacteria Mangrove dieback reveals an unexpected source of methane Revealing the world’s biggest parrot: ‘Heracles’ Scientists measure the loss of Shark Bay seagrass

42 43 45 46 47 48 51

Fighting pollution with maths Leading an evolution in coral

73 74 75 76

IMPROVING HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

53 INDIGENOUS RESEARCH AND COLLABORATION Indigenous collaboration vital to conservation research outcomes Including Indigenous stories in the Australian Dictionary of Biography Celebrating and preserving Indigenous ceremonies Understanding extreme bushfire behaviour and firestorm development STRIVING FOR CULTURAL AND SOCIAL OUTCOMES 61 Examining the cultural legacy of Melbourne’s first Archbishop 62 54 56 58 59

The Big Anxiety Festival The lasting impact of caregiving for a dying loved one Uncovering the mechanism to human viral immunity DIY pressure pump breaks down technology barrier Illuminating the golden staph Exploring cognitive ageing and its impacts on individuals Sleeping ‘on-call' or not

78 79 80 83

84 ARC SCHEME INFORMATION

Earth's horizon. iStock.com/AdobeBox.

2

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH Smashing the quantum speed record Millisecond radio reflexes field a curveball from deep space 4 5

6 7

Giant tsunami followed dinosaur-killing asteroid Ancient hyena poo sheds new light on human evolution The making of a superplume: Huge underground mountains of hot rock Synthetic bio-computers may hold the key to solve the unsolvable Glitching neutron star opens up to researchers

9

10

13

3

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

A 2-qubit gate is the central building block of any quantum computer, and the UNSW team’s version of it is the fastest ever to be demonstrated in silicon, completing an operation in 0.8 nanoseconds, which is ~200 times faster than other existing spin-based two-qubit gates. 2018 Australian of the Year, Professor Michelle Simmons, who is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and Director of CQC 2 T, says the result is the culmination of two decades’ worth of work, and has set the team up to shift the boundaries of what’s thought to be 'humanly possible'.

SMASHING THE QUANTUM SPEED RECORD

A group of physicists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC 2 T) at The University of New South Wales (UNSW) has built a super-fast version of the central building block of a quantum computer. The research team has achieved the first 2-qubit gate between atom qubits in silicon—a major milestone in the team’s quest to build an atom-scale quantum computer, a vision first outlined by scientists 20 years ago.

“WE’VE REALLY SHOWN THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO CONTROL THE WORLD AT THE ATOMIC SCALE— AND THAT THE BENEFITS OF THE APPROACH ARE TRANSFORMATIONAL, INCLUDING THE REMARKABLE SPEED AT WHICH OUR SYSTEM OPERATES,” SAYS PROFESSOR SIMMONS.

(Left to right) Professor Michelle Simmons, Dr Sam Gorman, Dr Yu He, Mr Ludwik Kranz, Dr Joris Keizer and Mr Daniel Keith. Credit: CQC 2 T.

4

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

For the first time, an ARC-supported team of researchers has determined the location of a one-off 'fast radio burst'. Scientists don’t know what causes these mysterious and intense radio bursts from outer space, but determining their location is a significant technical achievement and may help explain the cause of the phenomena. Since the discovery of fast radio bursts in 2007, 85 more bursts were identified by 2019, with each one appearing and then disappearing again within about 1 millisecond. Concerted follow-up of one special source that gave off ‘repeat’ bursts led to its localisation in 2017, but pinpointing the origin of one of the much more common ‘one-off’ bursts had not previously been achieved. The discovery was made with support from an ARC Discovery Projects grant led by Associate Professor Jean-Pierre Macquart, based at Curtin University, and an ARC Future Fellowship awarded to Associate Professor MILLISECOND RADIO REFLEXES FIELD A CURVEBALL FROM DEEP SPACE “IF WE WERE TO STAND ON THE MOON AND LOOK DOWN AT THE EARTH WITH THIS PRECISION, WE WOULD BE ABLE TO TELL NOT ONLY WHICH CITY THE BURST CAME FROM, BUT WHICH POSTCODE—AND EVEN WHICH CITY BLOCK,” SAYS CSIRO RESEARCHER, DR KEITH BANNISTER.

Adam Deller, who is based at Swinburne University of Technology. They pinpointed the burst to the outskirts of a Milky Way-sized galaxy about 3.6 billion light-years away. The discovery was made using the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope in Western Australia, and the home galaxy was subsequently imaged by three of the world's largest optical telescopes. In 2020 a new ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities (LIEF) grant was awarded to the team that will provide a major increase in performance to the Parkes radio telescope, particularly in sensitivity and survey speed, to aid in future observations of Fast Radio Bursts and other deep space phenomena.

CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) radio telescope, located at CSIRO’s Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. Credit: CSIRO/Dragonfly Media.

5

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

Researchers from Curtin University have taken part in a scientific expedition to retrieve core samples from the Chicxulub meteorite crater in the Gulf of Mexico, uncovering evidence that the asteroid that caused the mass extinction of the dinosaurs also triggered a giant tsunami. The asteroid impact that formed the crater on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, where the research was carried out, is thought to be the cause of the late Cretaceous Period mass extinction event, in which 76 per cent of all plant and animal species in the ancient world, including all non-flying dinosaurs, were killed off. The research team, including ARC Discovery Projects grant recipient, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Kliti Grice from Curtin’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, drilled into the crater in order to retrieve rocks from 500 metres to 1300 metres below the seafloor, finding evidence of the events of the days after the asteroid’s impact. Specific molecules from fungi in soil and wildfires helped to track the giant tsunami that was several hundreds of metres high, which flooded the crater in the aftermath of the impact. Further ARC-supported research by the team has revealed that microbial life quickly re-established itself in the crater, leading to ’post-apocalyptic microbial mayhem’ and demonstrating how resilient microorganisms are to hostile environments. GIANT TSUNAMI FOLLOWED DINOSAUR-KILLING ASTEROID

THE RESEARCH HELPS ANSWER THE TANTALISING QUESTION OF EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED IN THE HOURS, DAYS AND WEEKS FOLLOWING ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN EARTH’S HISTORY.

An illustration of the timeline of the asteroid’s impact. Credit: Victor Leshyk.

6

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

ANCIENT HYENA POO SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON HUMAN EVOLUTION

Fossil animal droppings, charcoal from ancient fires, and bone fragments littering the ground of one of the world’s most important human evolution sites have revealed fascinating insights into an obscure branch of early humans and predators. The team of Australian and Russian scientists, including ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Mike Morley at Flinders University and the Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage , Professor Richard ‘Bert’ Roberts at the University of Wollongong, used modern geoarchaeological techniques to unearth new details of day-to-day life in the famous Denisova Cave complex in Siberia’s Altai Mountains. Their microscopic analysis of the sedimentary deposits of the cave suggests that large carnivores once dominated the landscape, competing with ancient humans for prime space in cave shelters for more than 300,000 years. The Siberian site came to prominence more than a decade ago with the discovery of the fossil remains of a previously unknown human group dubbed the Denisovans, after the local name for the cave. The research implies that these ancient people probably came and went for short-lived episodes. It also reveals new information about the climate inside the cave through prehistoric time, and the use of fire. “EARLY NOMADIC HUMAN GROUPS AND LARGE CARNIVORES SUCH AS HYENAS AND WOLVES LEFT A WEALTH OF MICROSCOPIC TRACES THAT ILLUMINATE THE USE OF THE CAVE OVER THE LAST THREE GLACIAL-INTERGLACIAL CYCLES,” SAYS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR MIKE MORLEY.

Hyena Smiling. Istock.com/rkraan.

7

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

THE DISCOVERY GIVES RESEARCHERS A NEW LEAD IN SOLVING THE PROBLEM OF FINDING THE ULTIMATE ‘PLATE TECTONIC DRIVING FORCE’—WITH WIDE-RANGING IMPLICATIONS FOR THE EARTH SCIENCES.

Lava. iStock.com/Justinreznick.

8

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

ARC-supported researchers at Curtin University have analysed thousands of rock samples to uncover the movements of mountains of rock deep within the earth, adding to our understanding of the driver for the formation and break-up of supercontinents like Pangaea, and plate tectonics in general. ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Zheng-Xiang Li, and members of his team from Curtin University’s School of Earth and Planetary Sciences utilised data from over 40,000 basalt rock samples taken from Earth’s continents and the ocean floors. Professor Li says that nearly 3,000 kilometres below the Earth’s surface, just above the boundary between the Earth’s liquid outer core and solid mantle layer, is where these hot, dense piles of rocks are located. THE MAKING OF A SUPERPLUME: HUGE UNDERGROUND MOUNTAINS OF HOT ROCK

These mountains are hundreds of kilometres high and thousands of kilometres in diameter, and are known as Large Low Shear Velocity Provinces, or ‘superplumes’. The researchers found that these superplumes form and disintegrate in a cyclical manner over hundreds of millions of years. More surprising is that their activity is almost exactly synchronised with a 500 to 700 million-years-long cycle of supercontinents forming and breaking up through the last two billion years of the Earth’s history. Professor Li says that the supercontinent cycle leads to the superplume cycle, but at the same time, the superplumes cause the break up of the supercontinents, leading to a ‘chicken-and-egg’ relationship. However, scientists think that the plates appear to have a slight upper hand in the process.

9

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

Hybrid half-living, half-synthetic bio-computers smaller than a full stop are being tested as a possible solution to the problem of creating truly lifelike artificial intelligence. The computers created by ARC Future Fellow, Associate Professor Dan Nicolau, based at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Oxford University (UK), have the properties of life: they can do calculations in a massively parallel way, just as we do when we walk, talk, breathe and do thousands more things, all at the same time. And, like living things, they use almost no energy to exist. Associate Professor Nicolau says that the problem of how long it was taking a computer to wade through extreme amounts of data kept cropping up, partly because of a computer’s inability to accept imperfection. With support from his Future Fellowship, he is now developing disruptive computer technology that provides a way to solve the ‘unsolvable’ problems at the heart of computer science. So far, the research has led to the creation of ‘living, breathing’ devices powered by microscopic pieces of rabbit muscle and pig brain that are able to do maths at roughly the level of a primary school child. SYNTHETIC BIO-COMPUTERS MAY HOLD THE KEY TO SOLVE THE UNSOLVABLE

“WHEN COMPUTERS WERE FIRST DEVELOPED, THEY WERE SEEN AS BEING ABLE TO SOLVE EVERY POSSIBLE PROBLEM WE COULD THINK OF, GIVEN ENOUGH TIME. BUT MOST OF THE IMPORTANT CHALLENGES WE FACE, FROM DRUG DEVELOPMENT TO REASONING ABOUT OUR WORLD TO FINDING LOVE, TURN OUT TO BE IMPOSSIBLE FOR THEM TO COMPLETE WITHIN A HUMAN LIFETIME, OR EVEN WITHIN THE LIFETIME OF A GALAXY. BIOCOMPUTATION IS AN ATTEMPT TO OVERCOME THIS LIMITATION.” SAYS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR NICOLAU.

Caption: 'Love' artwork by Amiti Singh, 2019.

10

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

11

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

Greg Ashton (left) and Paul Lasky (right). Credit: Carl Knox, ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav).

12

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

GLITCHING NEUTRON STAR OPENS UP TO RESEARCHERS

Neutron stars are among the densest objects in the Universe. They rotate extremely fast and regularly— until they don’t. Occasionally, these neutron stars start to spin even faster, caused by portions of the inside of the star moving outwards. It’s called a ‘glitch’ and it’s a rare glimpse into the interior of these mysterious objects. Researchers from Monash University, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), McGill University in Canada, and the University of Tasmania, have studied the interior of the Vela Pulsar, a neutron star in the southern sky that is 1,000 light years away. Dr Paul Lasky, an ARC Future Fellow from the Monash School of Physics and Astronomy, and a member of the OzGrav team that studied Vela, says that for the first time, the scientists have got a glimpse into the interior of the Vela Pulsar—revealing that the inside of the star actually has three different components. Their observations suggest a slower spinning core of superfluid neutrons acts like a clutch which slows the fast spinning star back down to regularity. Although this had been partly predicted by previous theoretical work, the researchers made another observation which defies explanation—immediately before the glitch, they noticed that the star seems to slow down its rotation rate before spinning back up. Dr Greg Ashton, also from the Monash School of Physics and Astronomy, and a member of OzGrav, says that the research team currently has no idea why this is, and it’s the first time it has ever been seen. But they speculate it is related to the cause of the glitch and hope their research will spur some new theories on neutron stars and glitches. OzGrav is administered by Swinburne University.

“VELA IS FAMOUS NOT ONLY BECAUSE ONLY 5% OF PULSARS ARE KNOWN TO ‘GLITCH’, BUT ALSO BECAUSE VELA GLITCHES ABOUT ONCE EVERY THREE YEARS, MAKING IT A FAVOURITE OF ‘GLITCH HUNTERS,” SAYS DR GREG ASHTON.

13

UNDERSTANDING OUR WORLD THROUGH FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH

Countryside. iStock.com/Katharina13.

14

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

INDUSTRY DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS Protecting wheat from salty soils

16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 27

Debunking the myth about wheat breeding and allergies Gone with the wind—reducing agricultural methane emissions The key to success is a company’s culture Deodorising sheep makes them less appealing to blowflies Recycling denim in a new way Reinventing sugarcane into energy Breakthrough in plant nutrient detection Spearheading a mathematical approach to solve business problems

15

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

The research described two enzymes in wheat that are especially sensitive to salt, and that appear to be the ‘weak link’ that leads to plant death in saline soils. The researchers also discovered wheat has a natural defence system that can bypass one of the sensitive enzymes, partially protecting against salt. Dr Taylor said that by understanding exactly how salt is damaging wheat plants, they can look for varieties with improved natural salt tolerance and introduce them into wheat breeding programs. SALINITY IS A GLOBAL AGRICULTURAL ISSUE, AND IN AUSTRALIA IT AFFECTS MORE THAN TWO MILLION HECTARES OF FARMLAND, HALF OF WHICH IS IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA. FARMERS IN AFFECTED AREAS SEE CROP YIELDS REDUCED BY MORE THAN A QUARTER.

PROTECTING WHEAT FROM SALTY SOILS

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology led by The University of Western Australia (UWA) have discovered two enzymes that explain the sensitivity of wheat plants to salty soils. The findings could lead to advances that strengthen crops against salinity, an issue costing WA farmers more than $500 million a year. The research was led by an ARC Future Fellowship recipient, Dr Nicolas Taylor, from the UWA School of Molecular Sciences, with a team at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology and The National University of Malaysia. An improved understanding of the effects of salinity on crops at a molecular level is essential for developing more tolerant wheat varieties.

(Left to right) Dr Nicolas Taylor, Dr Richard Jacoby and Professor Harvey Millar. Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology.

16

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

The outcome of Dr Florides' research includes the development of a new diagnostic method, and a database with information on the allergenicity of these wheat varieties for use by researchers and industry. It is hoped this research will contribute to the development of low-allergenic wheat varieties that could be made into products suitable for people who have mild gluten intolerance. Dr Florides was one of four graduates from the Training Centre awarded PhDs by Charles Sturt University in 2019. Other PhD graduates investigated the antioxidant properties of wholegrain cereals like rice, sorghum, barley and oats, the health benefits of Australian-grown coloured rice and the impact of water efficiency measures on the quality of rice produced. The Functional Grains Centre, led by Charles Sturt University, has focused on improving the value of grain through research on markets, production systems, grain processing and the development of high-value grain products.

Research at Charles Sturt University has disproven the idea that modern wheat varieties are somehow more allergenic than wheat grown by our ancestors. Dr Chris Florides investigated 170 wheat varieties grown in Australia from 1860 to 2015 as part of his PhD research through the ARC Industrial Transformation Training Centre for Functional Grains (The Functional Grains Centre). While examining the allergenicity of the different varieties, including those brought from England that were bred to suit Australia’s climate, he discovered that one of the most allergenic varieties was one grown in the 1800s. This contradicts a common belief that early wheat varieties were not immunogenic, and that modern genetic techniques have created wheat varieties that are more allergenic. DEBUNKING THE MYTH ABOUT WHEAT BREEDING AND ALLERGIES

WHILE IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DEVELOP COMPLETELY NON-ALLERGENIC WHEAT BECAUSE THE GLUTEN PROTEINS ARE NECESSARY FOR THE FUNCTIONALITY OF THE FLOUR, RESEARCHERS HOPE THAT VARIETIES WITH A LOW CONTENT OF IMMUNOREACTIVE PROTEINS CAN NOW BE USED IN WHEAT BREEDING PROGRAMS.

Wheat. Credit: Charles Sturt University.

17

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Specifically, they determined which microbes and enzymes control the supply of hydrogen, which is the main energy source for microbes which produce methane. The researchers found that these methane-producing microbes were the main hydrogen users in high-emitting sheep. On the other hand, non-methane producing microbes and enzymes—including acetogens, fumarate, nitrate and sulphate reducers—dominated in low-emitting sheep. This new understanding will allow scientists to manipulate the process and form strategies to reduce methane production from sheep, cattle and deer. One strategy suggested is to introduce feed supplements that encourage non-methane producing microbes and enzymes to outcompete those that produce methane.

An international research team led by ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Associate Professor Chris Greening at Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, has made an important discovery in the quest to help lower global agricultural methane emissions, vital for the ongoing health of the planet. In a collaboration with a wider team as part of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, the researchers have identified new processes that control methane production in the stomach (rumen) of sheep and other ruminants. GONE WITH THE WIND—REDUCING AGRICULTURAL METHANE EMISSIONS

CONTROLLING THE BALANCE OF MICROBES AND ENZYMES IN THE STOMACHS OF RUMINANTS SUCH AS SHEEP AND CATTLE WILL LEAD TO REDUCED AGRICULTURAL METHANE EMISSIONS, WHICH CONTRIBUTE SIGNIFICANTLY TO HUMAN-DRIVEN CLIMATE CHANGE.

Sheep at the AgResearch farm in Aorangi, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Credit: AgResearch.

18

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS A COMPANY’S CULTURE

A study by researchers at Western Sydney University and The University of Newcastle has emphasised the importance of creating and maintaining a strong work culture in companies in Australia’s manufacturing sector, and the benefits of implementing more environmentally sustainable practices. Funded through the ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme, the Chief Investigators in the study, Professor Katherine Gibson, Dr Stephen Healy and Associate Professor Jenny Cameron with Research Project Manager Dr Joanne McNeill, interviewed ten New South Wales-based manufacturers. A mix of successful manufacturers were surveyed, including family businesses, multi-nationals, cooperatives and social enterprises, from those who had been established within the last five years, to those who have been operating for over 100 years. The researchers note that manufacturing is rarely discussed in cultural terms. However, they found that all the participating companies referred to their distinctive ‘culture’ of operation and articulated specific commitments that indicate a forward-looking culture beyond what could be considered ‘business as usual’. A key finding from their research is that to have a strong culture, company growth has to be carefully considered—and that decent jobs and an inclusive economy is created by companies that see workers as valued contributors, and factories as sites of inclusion. The research also highlighted how a smaller ecological footprint is achieved by companies seeing themselves as contributing to environmental care and repair in the long-term, which includes producing high-quality and durable products, viewing waste reduction as an efficiency, and considering product circularity—that is, a commitment to extending the product’s lifecycle and stewardship across the supply chain.

THE MANUFACTURERS IN THE STUDY EXPRESSED A

RESPONSIBILITY TO MUCH MORE THAN INCREASING PROFITS AND MAXIMISING RETURNS. THIS COMMITMENT TO BUSINESS MOTIVATIONS BEYOND PROFIT WAS DISPLAYED ACROSS ALL THE ENTERPRISE TYPES.

Specialist vehicle components. Credit: Varley Group.

19

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

DE-ODOURISING SHEEP MAKES THEM LESS APPEALING TO BLOWFLIES

A global research project involving the collaboration of an ARC-supported researcher at The University of Western Australia (UWA) with Dr Johan Greeff at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia, has identified compounds in Merino sheep wool that are attractive to Australian blowflies. The discovery could help breeders develop fly-resistant flocks of sheep, which will improve animal welfare and productivity. The research team, which included ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient at UWA, Dr Bjorn Bohman , says that the findings could help to prevent flystrike, a distressing disease caused by blowflies, which poses a significant health risk to sheep and which has been estimated to cost the agriculture industry $280 million annually. The researchers say that identifying the compounds which attract flies, octanal and nonanal, is a step towards the development of approaches for preventing flystrike that are more clean, green and ethical in that they avoid the use of insecticides and mulesing. The research was supported by Australian Wool Innovation Ltd and was undertaken as a part of the PhD studies of Dr Guanjie Yan, who was working at UWA with the support of the China Scholarships Council. Dr Yan established a technique for studying the sense of smell in flies and was able to show that blowflies react to individual odour compounds that are heritable in Merino sheep. This work now needs to be expanded to demonstrate whether it could lead to a more effective way to breed sheep that are resistant to flystrike.

THE STUDY SHOWED THAT MERINO SHEEP CLEARLY HAVE INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN THE CHEMICAL CONTENT OF THEIR WOOL—THE FLY-ATTRACTIVE WOOL CONTAINS VOLATILE COMPOUNDS NOT FOUND IN NON-ATTRACTIVE WOOL.

Images of Merino sheep used in the trial. Credit: UWA.

20

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

21

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

into powders. Then they dissolved the powders in a mixture that included dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), using much less ionic liquid than other methods. In addition, DMSO reduced the viscosity of the ionic liquid solution, making it easier to spin the cellulose into new fibres. Because DMSO is much cheaper than the ionic liquid, the new process reduced the cost of solvent by 77 per cent. These new low-cost methods for textile recycling present a way for industry to reduce the vast quantity of clothing waste sent to landfill every year. THE NEW TECHNIQUE IMPROVES ON EXISTING ECYCLING METHODS, WHICH CAN BE INEFFICIENT ND EXPENSIVE, AND PROMISES TO REDUCE BOTH ANDFILL AND THE NEED TO GROW SO MUCH NEW OTTON. R A L C

RECYCLING DENIM IN A NEW WAY

ARC-supported researchers at the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Future Fibres , based at Deakin University, have found an efficient, low-cost method that can convert waste denim into useable viscose-type fibres. Previously, researchers have used ionic liquids—liquid salts—to dissolve cotton textiles into their cellulose building blocks. The cellulose was then spun into new viscose-type fibres that could be woven into textiles. However, ionic liquids are expensive and difficult to work with due to their high viscosity. Given these issues, Chief Investigator Dr Nolene Byrne and her research team wanted to find a way to reduce the amount of these solvents required to recycle denim. The researchers ground three textile samples (blue denim fabric, red denim pants and a mixed-colour t-shirt)

Dr Nolene Byrne and former PhD student Dr Beini Zeng, who had a scholarship funded by the ARC Future Fibres Hub. Credit: Deakin University.

22

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

\\

the production of countless items, from cosmetics to car parts. The project has been supported by collaborating organisations, the US Joint BioEnergy Institute and Sugar Research Australia, working with QAAFI researchers to test a range of sugarcane varieties and identify which types produce ethanol most effectively and efficiently. Sugarcane is ideal for renewables because it is fast-growing with abundant biomass and it is the research team’s goal to reinvent sugarcane as a crop with a wider range of end uses. PROFESSOR HENRY SAYS THAT THE INDUSTRY MUST THINK BEYOND JUST PRODUCING SUGAR, TO ALSO PRODUCING ELECTRICITY, BIOFUELS FOR TRANSPORTATION, AND OILS TO REPLACE TRADITIONAL PLASTICS.

REINVENTING SUGARCANE INTO ENERGY

Professor Robert Henry, Director of the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at The University of Queensland, has conducted experiments to tailor sugarcane production to produce biofuels and bioplastics. This research, supported by the ARC Linkage Projects scheme, will support the Australian sugar industry through times of increased international competition and declining sugar prices. Sugar is the last major cultivated plant to have its genome sequenced, and the researchers expect to see it fully decoded by the end of 2020. Professor Henry says that having sugar’s genetic template will allow them to look at growing sugarcane as a biofuel and a source of 100 per cent recyclable bioplastic, making it a viable substitute for petroleum in

Professor Robert Henry. Credit: UQ.

23

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

BREAKTHROUGH IN PLANT NUTRIENT DETECTION

Findings from the La Trobe University node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology , which is led by Professor James Whelan, could lead to less fertiliser wastage, saving millions of dollars for Australian farmers. Lead researcher of the project, Dr Ricarda Jost, said that in countries like Australia where soils are phosphorus poor, farmers are using large amounts of expensive, non-renewable phosphorus fertiliser, such as superphosphate or diammonium phosphate (DAP), much of which is not being taken up effectively by crops at the right time for growth. Using Arabidopsis thaliana (thale or mouse-ear cress) shoots, the research team, under the supervision of Dr Jost and including PhD student Marina Borges Osorio, conducted genetic testing by adding phosphorus fertiliser and observing the behaviour of mutants with altered phosphorus levels. Bioinformatic analysis uncovered a protein called SPX4 that can sense vital phosphorus levels—the ‘fuel in the tank’—in plants and then adjust growth and flowering in response. Dr Jost says that the protein senses when the plant has taken in enough phosphorus and tells the roots to stop taking it up. If the fuel pump is turned off too early, this can limit plant growth. Interestingly, the researchers found that the same protein seems to have a ‘moonlighting’ activity, where it activates beneficial processes such as seed production. The findings provide a deeper understanding of the mechanisms whereby plants sense how much and when to take in the essential nutrient, phosphorus, for optimal growth. The ARC Centre of Excellence for Plant Energy Biology is administered by The University of Western Australia. Lead Researcher Dr Ricarda Jost from the Department of Animal, Plant and Soil Sciences at La Trobe University. Credit: La Trobe University.

24

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

GREATER UNDERSTANDING OF HOW SPX4 OPERATES COULD LEAD TO A MORE PRECISE IDENTIFICATION OF THE GENES IT REGULATES, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO CONTROL THE PROTEIN’S ACTIVITY USING GENETIC INTERVENTION—SWITCHING ON THE POSITIVE AND SWITCHING OFF THE NEGATIVE RESPONSES.

25

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

“TRYING TO FIND MATHEMATICAL PATTERNS AND SOLUTIONS THAT MAY IMPROVE BUSINESS OPERATIONS AND PROCESSES FOR INDUSTRY IS A CHALLENGING, BUT REWARDING TASK,” SAYS PROFESSOR LOXTON.

Professor Ryan Loxton. Credit: Curtin University.

26

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Professor Ryan Loxton, a mathematician from Curtin University’s School of Electrical Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is taking mathematics into new domains with an ARC Future Fellowship that tackles complexity in business decision-making with rigorous mathematical theory. Professor Loxton’s research uses mathematical techniques to solve real-world problems by optimising processes in the oil and gas, agriculture, and mining industries, and making them more efficient, cost-effective and less environmentally damaging. Professor Loxton has worked on a number of collaborative projects with industry partners, and as a Chief Investigator and theme leader at the ARC Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science , he is working with a team of researchers to analyse maintenance data and develop optimal strategies for long-term maintenance planning. This research is a collaborative effort with the Training Centre’s partner organisations which include Alcoa Ltd, BHP Billiton and Roy Hill Holdings. At the Training Centre, Professor Loxton supervises two postdoctoral researchers, one PhD student, and one honours student, and he is a mentor for other junior researchers in the centre, providing opportunities for them to get involved in applied mathematics projects with industry partners to complement their academic experience. SPEARHEADING A MATHEMATICAL APPROACH TO SOLVE BUSINESS PROBLEMS

27

INDUSTRY-DRIVEN RESEARCH TO GENERATE ECONOMIC IMPACTS

Abstract science. iStock.com/ipopba.

28

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

30 31 32 33 35 2D materials found to thrive in space conditions Artificial leaves to absorb CO2 Ultrathin graphene film efficiently absorbs energy from the warm rays of the sun 20 years of research leads to airport explosives detector Tweaking silicon to improve solar cells for cheaper energy

29

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

2D MATERIALS FOUND TO THRIVE IN SPACE CONDITIONS

Dr Tobias Vogl and ARC Australian Laureate Fellow, Professor Ping Koy Lam, along with colleagues at The Australian National University (ANU) node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC 2 T), have discovered a number of 2D materials that can not only withstand being sent into space, but can potentially thrive in the harsh conditions. During a satellite's orbit around the earth, it is subject to heating, cooling, and radiation. Previous research has demonstrated the robustness of 2D materials when it comes to temperature fluctuations, but the impact of radiation was unknown. The researchers set out to test a range of 2D materials to radiation levels comparable to what is experienced during a satellite's orbit around the earth. Surprisingly, they found the properties of some materials actually improved after exposure to radiation.

"A MATERIAL GETTING STRONGER AFTER IRRADIATION WITH GAMMA RAYS—IT REMINDS ME OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK!" SAID ANU RESEARCHER, DR TOBIAS VOGL.

The discovery could influence the type of materials used to build everything from satellite electronics to solar cells and batteries—making future space missions more accessible, and cheaper to launch. In light of the recent establishment of the Australian Space Agency, the work also shows that Australian researchers can compete internationally in using quantum technology to enhance space instrumentations. CQC 2 T is administered by The University of New South Wales. Dr Tobias Vogl, holding a prototype of a CubeSat which contains a fully operational quantum light source, alongside an experimental setup for testing it. Credit: Lannon Harley, ANU.

30

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

While the CO 2 -absorbent plates are currently small, Professor Huang says that the end goal is to create large panels, similar to solar panels, that can be used by industry to absorb and convert large volumes of CO 2 . Eventually the technology could be used by power stations to capture emissions from burning fossil fuels, which along with transport, are recognised by scientists as the main cause of global warming, contributing up to 65 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers say that, in contrast to carbon capture and storage, carbon conversion could be financially viable as it would allow for the generation of industrial quantities of materials, such as methanol, which is a useful material for production of fuels and other chemicals.

ARTIFICIAL LEAVES TO ABSORB CO2

A team of researchers including ARC-supported Professor Jun Huang from The University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is developing a carbon capture method that aims to go one step beyond storage, instead converting and recycling carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) into raw materials that can be used to create fuels and chemicals. The team built microplates of carbon, layered with carbon quantum dots with tiny pores that absorb CO 2 and water, in order to simulate the natural process of photosynthesis. Once carbon dioxide and water are absorbed, a chemical process occurs that combines both compounds and turns them into hydrocarbon, an organic compound that can be used for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, clothing, and construction.

“DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM LEAVES AND PLANTS, WE HAVE DEVELOPED AN ARTIFICIAL PHOTOSYNTHESIS METHOD,” SAYS PROFESSOR HUANG.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide and 'breathe' out oxygen. Credit: Luisa Low/University of Sydney.

31

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

The discovery opens up many exciting applications, with potential for the conversion of the sun’s heat into electricity, solar-powered seawater desalination, optical interconnectors and photodetectors. The researchers say that the collaboration, which was supported through the ARC’s Discovery Projects scheme, shows what can be achieved when different universities bring their own expertise to discover new science and its applications.

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) recipient, Professor Baohua Jia, has led a group of researchers at the Centre for Translational Atomaterials (CTAM), Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Sydney and The Australian National University in a collaboration to develop an ultrathin graphene film with unique properties that has great potential for solar thermal energy harvesting. The research team developed a new class of optical material that is 1000 times finer than a human hair, and able to rapidly heat up to 160°C under natural sunlight in an open environment. The material includes a layer of graphene oxide with special coated grating structures that were fabricated with a method using lasers that is scalable and low cost. ULTRATHIN GRAPHENE FILM EFFICIENTLY ABSORBS ENERGY FROM THE WARM RAYS OF THE SUN

RESEARCHERS SAY THE NEW ULTRATHIN FILM COULD EVEN LEAD TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF ‘INVISIBLE CLOAKING TECHNOLOGY’ THROUGH DEVELOPING LARGE-SCALE THIN FILMS ENCLOSING THE OBJECTS TO BE ‘HIDDEN’.

Prototype of ultrathin graphene solar heating film. Credit: Swinburne University of Technology.

32

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

20 YEARS OF RESEARCH LEADS TO AIRPORT EXPLOSIVES DETECTOR

Australian Customs Service, Australian Federal Police and National Institute of Forensic Science, which began in 2006. Through a Linkage Projects grant, the team has leveraged this technology base for near real-time monitoring of nutrients, with a second company, EcoDetection Pty Ltd, created to bring it to market.

A University of Tasmania (UTAS) research team led by Professor Michael Breadmore has taken an invention from its first inception at the UTAS-based Australian Centre for Research on Separation Science, right through to commercialisation—with ARC support all along the way. Separation science involves the study of fundamental processes and materials for the separation and measurement of specific molecules, usually when these are present in very complex mixtures. With innovation partner Grey Innovation, the research team has developed a device which uses techniques from separation science to identify inorganic explosives in under a minute. A new company, GreyScan Australia Pty Ltd, has been formed to market the device for use by first responders and checkpoint operatives in a variety of detection scenarios—including military, public security, cargo and mail screening, passenger screening, commercial premises and major events. Until now, it has not been possible to detect the full range of inorganic explosives materials with speed and accuracy in the field. The new device quickly and accurately identifies ingredients commonly used in improvised explosives devices, extending current security capabilities by complementing traditional explosives trace detectors. The device received national academic and commercial recognition, with the team awarded the 2019 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Safeguarding Australia. Professor Breadmore says the project was underpinned by fundamental research supported through Discovery Projects grants awarded to Paul Haddad in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and through partnerships with the

“CONTINUED FUNDING SUPPORT THROUGH THE ARC MEANT I INITIALLY HAD SPACE TO FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTAL RESEARCH. NOW I’M TURNING THIS EXPERTISE INTO RESEARCH TRANSLATION FOR INDUSTRY,” SAYS PROFESSOR BREADMORE.

The GreyScan device can identify organic explosives in under a minute. Credit: GreyScan Pty Ltd.

33

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

34

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

An international research team led by researchers at The Australian National University (ANU), including ARC Future Fellowship recipient, Professor Jodie Bradby, has made a new type of silicon that better uses sunlight and promises to cut the cost of solar technology. Silicon is a preferred raw material for solar cells due to its abundance, low cost and non-toxicity, even though the standard form of silicon used in solar cells cannot make use of all the available solar energy. The researchers discovered that by simply prodding the silicon with a microscopic hard tip, they could change its crystal form into something more efficient. The new type of silicon is called r8-Si. Instead of the atoms being square or cubic, as in standard silicon, they form a complex shape, like a diamond in 3D. Discovered while exploring a little-known property of silicon—its ability to exist in different crystal forms—the researchers say their world-first invention could help reduce the costs of renewable electricity through more efficient solar cells. The team is now using a unique high-pressure facility at the ANU to develop ways of making enough material to produce a prototype solar cell, which will enable them to measure exactly how the new silicon absorbs light and behaves electrically. TWEAKING SILICON TO IMPROVE SOLAR CELLS FOR CHEAPER ENERGY

“WE NOW NEED TO SCALE UP AND THEN WORK ON INTEGRATING THIS MATERIAL INTO EXISTING SOLAR INDUSTRIES,” SAYS PROFESSOR BRADBY.

Dr Sherman Wong worked on the study of the new type of silicon for his PhD at ANU. Credit: ANU.

35

DEVELOPING INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90

Made with FlippingBook - Online magazine maker